iPhone China Unicom e1291357901709 China Unicom reprimanded by the Chinese government over unfair iPhone rulesChina’s second largest mobile phone provider, China Unicom, has been reprimanded by the Chinese government over unfair rules introduced last month.

China Unicom is the only operator authorised to sell the Apple iPhone in mainland China.

As The Next Web reported in November, China Unicom threatened to freeze the accounts of iPhone owners who removed their SIM cards from their phones.  The move was intended to counteract the common practice of customers signing up with China Unicom but then cutting down their existing China Mobile SIM cards to use in their iPhones.  China Mobile has been encouraging its subscribers to do this by providing a free SIM cutting service and a telephone hotline to help users switch networks.

China’s state news agency, Xinhua quoted an unnamed ministry official as saying that China Unicom should,

“respect and protect the legitimate rights and interests of telecommunications users, improve the service agreement, and improve service quality,”

In response, China Unicom’s spokesperson, Wen Baoqiu said in a phone interview quoted in BusinessWeek

“The ministry requires every enterprise to respect and protect consumer rights, our new rules haven’t harmed consumer interests. It was in order to protect consumer rights that we issued these rules. It doesn’t mean the ministry is unhappy with the rules. They are not happy or unhappy.”

As yet, it is not known whether China Unicom will change their terms and conditions and withdraw the threat to users that switch operators.